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Standardized virtualization: DMTF accepts Open Virtual Machine Format proposal

They may compete for customers, but virtualization rock stars Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, VMware and XenSource have settled their differences long enough to submit a draft proposing an industry standard format for portable virtual machines to the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF).

The DMTF announced its acceptance of the draft yesterday.

“This is a great effort by these companies to bring forward a draft specification to deploy different kinds of virtual machines and virtual appliances in a secure way,” said Winston Bumpus, DMTF president.

“Right now you can download virtual appliances from lots of places, but some are hypervisor specific, some have hardware requirements. There are all kinds of dependencies. This scenario allows you to download and try an application without doing all of the configuration steps,” Bumpus said.

The proposed format, called the Open Virtual Machine Format (OVF), would package all virtual machines (VMs) with an XML wrapper that would allow all virtualization platforms to safely and efficiently run the VM.

The OVF would also incorporate a security check to ensure that the VM had not been tampered with from the time the image was created to the time of download, and a license check.

“We really envision ISVs being able to encapsulate their products in virtual machines. I’ve been comparing it to an MP3 file — it’s more than just music, there’s metadata in a standardized format. It’s really going to change how software is deployed and distributed,” Bumpus said.

According to Bumpus, the OVF should roll out in the next 6-9 months.

For more information on DMTF and what they do, see’s article, DMTF tries to SMASH system management costs.

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This allows any virtualization platform that implements the standard to correctly install and run the virtual machines.
OVF: Open Virtual Machine Format Finally, there is a common machine format. Only took a few years. OVF supports a number of features that will enhance customers’ experience with virtualization, including portability, platform independence, verification, signing, versioning, and lice...